When Greyhounds struck in Andhra Pradesh’s fading crimson zone

In June, six Maoists together with high leaders of the CPI(Maoist) had been killed by the Greyhounds in Koyyuru mandal in Visakhapatnam Company. Sumit Bhattacharjee reports on the setback to the motion which is already at its lowest ebb within the area

On June 16, rain-bearing clouds loomed over Koyyuru mandal in Visakhapatnam Company, about 170 km from Visakhapatnam metropolis. The monsoon had set in. Your complete mandal is thickly forested, with hillocks, deep caverns and perennial streams. Quickly, there was a gentle drizzle.

A group of round 30 Maoists, together with some senior leaders, from the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) had been tenting on a hillock about 800 m excessive in the course of this jungle close to a village known as Theegalametta. At round 9 a.m., whereas one group of Maoists, sheltered below plastic tarpaulins, was busy cooking a meal, the others had been reportedly gearing up for an vital assembly.

 

There are two variations of what occurred a couple of minutes later. In keeping with a letter from the Maoists, the unsuspecting group out of the blue got here below heavy fireplace from the elite anti-Maoist power of Andhra Pradesh, the Greyhounds. Stunned by the hearth energy and stealth assault, the Maoists took time to reply. The alternate of fireside reportedly lasted for about 25 minutes and left six Maoists — three women and three top leaders — dead. In keeping with the official model, the Greyhounds requested the group to give up however was pressured to retaliate when the Maoists opened fireplace.

A critical setback

Visakhapatnam Company, positioned in Viskhapatnam district, is round 6,200 sq km and has 11 mandals. Koyyuru is one amongst them. The district administration and the police have declared all of the 11 mandals as “Maoist-affected”.

Among the many useless had been two Divisional Committee Members (DCM) and one Space Committee Member (ACM). The six were identified as Ranadev alias Arjun (DCM), Sande Gangiah alias ‘Dr’ Ashok (DCM), Santu Nachike (ACM), Lalitha, Madakm Chaite, and Paike. Ranadev and Nachike had been from Odisha; Ashok was from Pedapalli in Telangana; Lalitha was from GK Veedhi, one other Maoist-affected mandal in Visakhapatnam Company; and Chaite and Paike had been from Chhattisgarh.

Additionally learn | Maoists blame CM, DGP for ‘encounter’

Ranadev was among the many few dedicated Maoist leaders left within the area. He had been a part of the motion for about 20 years and was recognized to be an elusive and fierce fighter. He had earlier led the Kalimela Dalam. (Dalams are Maoist teams which function particularly areas.) Not too way back, he was moved to Boipariguda in Koraput, Odisha, after the merger of the Kalimela and Koraput Space Committees.

The killing of Sande Gangaiah alias ‘Dr’ Ashok is a critical setback to the group as he was main the medical group within the area. Ashok was not a certified physician; he had learnt the rudiments of nursing from native Registered Medical Practitioners. It’s stated that he might even carry out minor surgical procedures, together with treating bullet wounds. He hailed from a household of dedicated Maoists. His older brother, Sande Rajamouli, was the mastermind behind the mine blast in Alipiri in 2003 wherein former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu was injured. Rajamouli was killed in 2007 by the police.

The safety forces additionally recovered one AK-47 rifle, two carbines, two modified .303 Lee Enfield rifles, one country-made weapon, no less than one single-barrel muzzle-loading gun, some ammunition, explosive supplies, extremist literature, VHF units, medicines and package luggage from the spot.

Weapons and ammunition recovered at the site of an exchange of fire between Maoists and police in Andhra Pradesh’s Koyyuru mandal on June 16, 2021.

Weapons and ammunition recovered on the web site of an alternate of fireside between Maoists and police in Andhra Pradesh’s Koyyuru mandal on June 16, 2021.  
| Picture Credit score: The Hindu

Sources say that some senior leaders reminiscent of Gajarla Ravi alias Uday, Secretary of the CPI (Maoist) Andhra-Odisha Border Particular Zonal Committee; Aruna, the following in command; and Kakuri Pandana alias Jagan, who’s in-charge of the Galikonda space had been current on the campsite, too.

The assault

A senior police officer in addition to tribals within the close by villages say that the police had been conscious of the Maoists’ presence as barely 20 days in the past, there had been an alternate of fireside at one other place in Koyyuru. This assault was made doable by particular intelligence inputs, sources say.

Throughout the monsoon, for no less than two months, many villages within the inside elements of the district stay lower off from the mandal headquarters. Traversing the world, which has slippery crimson soil, and streams and rivulets in spate, is fraught with hazard. Given the problem in negotiating the terrain, each the Maoists and the safety forces usually let their guard down throughout this time. Whereas the Maoists chorus from their tactical counter offensive marketing campaign (after they perform most assaults in opposition to safety forces), the safety forces scale down their combing and space domination operations.

In keeping with sources within the police, the Greyhounds trekked in a single day for no less than 15 to 18 km in pitch darkness and swam the final lap to succeed in the vantage level early within the morning.

However essentially the most troublesome half was climbing the hill with out getting seen. Sources within the police say that originally, the safety forces had requested the Maoists to give up, however the Maoists opened fireplace and the Greyhounds group retaliated. There was no query of give up, say the police, as all of the senior Maoist leaders had been reportedly current on the spot. Their give up or demise would have meant an finish to the motion within the Andhra-Odisha Border area. “That’s the reason they fired at us and escaped below cowl fireplace. However six misplaced their lives,” says a senior officer engaged in anti-Maoist operations within the area.

 

This assault was much like the Ramaguda attack that occurred within the cut-off area of the Andhra-Odisha Border, in October 2016. In that assault, over 30 Maoists, together with some top leaders, were killed in a single operation. That operation too was led by the Greyhounds.

Inhospitable terrain

The Greyhounds was raised in 1989 by IPS officer K.S. Vyas as an elite anti-Maoist power. Seeing its profitable operations, many States going through the Maoist drawback have raised their very own forces.

Coaching for the Greyhounds is gruelling. Members of the power can’t be over 35 years. As soon as they cross 35, they’re drafted into the civil police till retirement. “Being younger offers us an edge by way of agility, power and stamina,” says a Greyhounds officer.

Throughout fight operations, every celebration of the Greyhounds has about 30 males who’re educated to trek lengthy distances. They’ll keep within the jungle at a stretch for over 5 to 6 days. At occasions, they live solely on dry fruits, as lighting a fireplace to cook dinner a quick meal can entice enemy fireplace or assist the enemy detect their location. The members talk with the bottom utilizing satellite tv for pc telephones or VHF units and use scramblers to keep away from being intercepted by the Maoists. The Maoists have the experience to intercept radio communication.

Greyhounds conduct a combing operation close to Theegalametta village in Koyyuru mandal.

Greyhounds conduct a combing operation near Theegalametta village in Koyyuru mandal.
 
| Picture Credit score: K.R. DEEPAK

The area shouldn’t be variety to anybody, whether or not the Maoists or the Greyhounds. The forces and the rebels are susceptible to malaria fever. In current occasions, COVID-19 has made its means into these distant areas too. Senior leaders reminiscent of Gajarla Ravi alias Uday and Central Committee member Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna alias RK, who’s in-charge of the Andhra-Odisha Border, are down with extreme diabetes, eyesight points and arthritis.

“Lack of sleep and good meals has weakened us,” says a senior Maoist chief, who surrendered not too long ago. Nachike, who was killed on June 16, had been recognized with COVID-19 and ‘Dr’ Ashok had not too long ago recovered from the virus.

The Maoists use previous, stolen police weapons together with AK 47s, 9 mm carbines, Lee Enfield .303 rifles, SLRs and country-made weapons or double- or single-barrel shotguns. The Greyhounds naturally have superior arsenal together with SLRs, MP-5 carbines, AK-47s with under-barrel grenade launchers, 5.56 mm Insas, 9 mm pistols and Tavor rifles.

Whereas the Greyhounds have had many successes in opposition to the Maoists, they suffered a serious setback in 2008 when 37 of their males had been ambushed by the Maoists after they had been crossing the Balimela reservoir in a ship.

The start of a motion

In undivided Andhra Pradesh, the seed of the armed wrestle was sown by the Telangana Rise up of 1946. The peasant motion was led by communist leaders reminiscent of Ravi Narayana Reddy, Puchalapalli Sundarayya and Sulaiman Areeb. They rebelled in opposition to the feudal lords of the Telangana area within the princely State of Hyderabad. The armed wrestle resulted in 1951, when the final of the guerilla squads was subdued by police power.

Although the Srikakulam motion, which started in 1967, was squashed, it impressed leaders reminiscent of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah and Ok.G. Satyamurthi within the early a part of Eighties. The motion grew in elements of what’s now known as Telangana, in districts reminiscent of Warangal, Khammam, Adilabad and Karimnagar. It was throughout Kondapalli’s management that the present crop of Maoist leaders reminiscent of former Common Secretary of the CPI (Maoist), Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi, and the current Common Secretary, Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavraj, joined the motion.

The motion grew resulting from oppression by feudal landlords and makes an attempt by zamindars to take over lands from tribals. It attracted younger and educated leaders reminiscent of Lakshmana Rao, a science instructor, and Keshava Rao and Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, each B. Tech graduates from Regional Engineering Faculty, Warangal (now often called the Nationwide Institute of Expertise). Azad additionally accomplished his M. Tech from Andhra College. He was shot useless by the Andhra Pradesh police in 2010.

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When the Greyhounds was shaped and the police started to make inroads into Maoist strongholds, the rebels had been pressured to hunt a secure haven. “That was when Kondapalli requested leaders reminiscent of Lakshmana Rao and Nambala to seek out safer areas within the Dandakarnya forest and the forests of the Jap Ghats, which included the districts of East Godavari and Visakhapatnam,” says a former Maoist who rose to the submit of State Committee member.

Nambala Keshava Rao, the current Common Secretary of the celebration, together with Bopanna, Ganti Prasad and Ganti Mohan entered Visakhapatnam district through the Chinturu and Rampa areas of East Godavari. For Nambala, getting a maintain within the area comprising the districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam was simple as he’s from Srikakulam. This group led the motion below the Individuals’s Battle Group banner. The group continued with its wrestle till the CPI (Maoist) was based by the then Common Secretary, Ganapathi, with the merger of the Communist Get together of India (Marxist-Leninist), Individuals’s Battle Group, and the Maoist Communist Centre of India in September 2004.

 

The preliminary base for the CPI (Maoist) was on the East Godavari and Visakhapatnam border that touched Koyyuru mandal. That’s the reason the Maoists named the division, their first on this area, as East Division. It contains Addateegala, Chinturu and Rampa in East Godavari, Koyyuru in Visakhapatnam (additionally known as Galikonda space), Parvathipuram in Vizianagaram and a few tribal tracts of Srikakulam.

Koyyuru turned a fertile floor for the Maoists as the world was backward. “A lot of the villages had been inhabited by the Kondhu tribals, a very susceptible tribal group, who had migrated earlier from Odisha after the dams constructed throughout the Balimela reservoir had displaced them,” says Venkata Rao, DSP, Particular Department (Extremist), Visakhapatnam District Police.

“Since many of the villages within the inside elements had been inhabited by significantly susceptible tribal teams, it was simple for the Maoist leaders, who had been educated, well-informed and steeped in ideology, to mould them,” says a former Further Superintendent of Police who served in anti-Maoist operations for over three many years. “Furthermore, oppression by the police, forest and income division officers paved the best way for gaining fashionable and mass assist.”

Additionally learn | The tight and flowing structure of the Maoists

“Again then, the main points in Visakhpatnam Company had been getting a superb worth for forest produce reminiscent of honey, rajma, bamboo pulp, neem and adda leaves. Espresso and pepper got here later,” says Professor P.D. Satyapal from the Anthropology division of Andhra College. The Maoist even set the worth for the forest produce to make sure that the tribals weren’t exploited by contractors and middlemen.

With Koyyuru of their management, the Maoists expanded their base slowly to Chintapalli and GK Veedhi, often called Korukonda space. As soon as in management, they established the Galikonda Area Committee and Korukonda Space Committee, that are nonetheless purposeful. The sooner dalams reminiscent of Nagulakonda and Thandava had been merged with them. From Korukonda space, they moved to Pedabayalu and Munchingput on the Andhra facet and Malkangiri, Koraput and Chitrakonda on the Odisha facet. The Pedabayalu and Kalimela Space Committees had been shaped on the Andhra-Odisha Border area that encompassed the cut-off space.

 

From the primary offence in 1981, wherein a landlord was killed in Choudidibbalu in Galikonda space, the Maoists have dedicated over 500 offences, together with arson, killing, and planning and executing landmine blasts. In 1993, they kidnapped MLA P. Balaraju and IAS officer Dasari Srinivasulu, and in 2011, they kidnapped IAS officer Vineel Krishna. Earlier, in 1987, they kidnapped 11 officers, together with seven IAS officers, from Gurtedu village. All these officers had been returned in alternate for the discharge of jailed Maoists and jailed tribals, compensation to the households of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody, cancellation of tasks within the space, amongst different things. From the early Eighties until date, there have been no less than 100 “encounters” wherein no less than 60 policemen and over 100 Maoists have been killed.

Additionally learn | Life term for woman Maoist for kidnapping Collector

An uncommon gathering

Given this historical past and the state’s fixed chase of the Maoists, why had been all of the Maoist leaders current at one spot in Theegalametta? One believable clarification, in response to the official model, is that the Maoists had been looking for a secure haven after the safety forces on either side of the Andhra-Odisha border stepped up the offensive over the previous few years. On the Andhra facet, 4 armed outposts below the CRPF have come up at Rallagedda in Chintapalli mandal, Rudakota in Pedabayalu mandal, Pedavalasa in GK Veedhi, and Nurmathi in G Madugula. In Odisha, about 25 firm working bases (COBs) of the Border Safety Power and about 10 Indian Reserve Battalion (IRBn) bases have come up. Odisha has been profitable in creating about six COBs within the cut-off area, a Maoist hotbed, in Badapadar, Jambai, Jantapayi, Vantalguda, Badapada and Gurasethu, and one IRBN base at Jodombo.

The opposite cause could have needed to do with motivating the tribals to hitch the motion. Recruitment has virtually dried up now resulting from elements reminiscent of lack of tribal management and growth actions taken up by the police, say police sources and former Maoists. Apart from Kakuri Pandana alias Jagan, there isn’t any tribal chief of standing on this area, says Officer on Particular Responsibility Sateesh Kumar, who coordinated the operation.

 

“The police have taken up quite a lot of programmes. They’ve offered clear consuming water by sinking borewells, related villages with roads, launched schemes to coach the tribals in numerous expertise, and coached them to hitch the police power and Central Armed Police Power. The tribals now need roads and cellphone towers, which the Maoists have been objecting to. This has distanced the tribals from left-wing extremism,” says B. Krishna Rao, Superintendent of Police, Visakhapatnam.

The police say that with the safety forces stepping up the offensive, the Maoists are on the again foot and are discovering it troublesome to maintain the motion going. From a power of round 500 cadres in mid-2000, the group has shrunk to a mere 30 now. The current killings are an enormous setback to the Maoist motion, which, at this time, is at its lowest ebb within the Company and within the Andhra-Odisha Border area.

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